A 27-year-old man who tried to rob Hawks Prairie Casino with a toy gun was arrested after being disarmed in a brawl early Saturday morning, Lacey police said.
“The suspect brandished a gun,” said Det. Sgt. Terrance Brimmer of the Lacey Police Department, but casino employees struggled with the man and took away the gun, which later proved to be a pellet gun.
The suspect then tackled a female employee, but was subdued again until law enforcement arrived, Brimmer said.
The incident was reported at 3:41 a.m. Saturday.
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Speaking on condition of anonymity, a casino employee who witnessed the incident told The Olympian that police used a taser on the suspect. The witness said he believed the suspect’s heart stopped beating.
“A little while after that, they were doing CPR on him,” said the employee, who credited a security guard for disarming the suspect and holding him on the ground until police arrived.
The Thurston County Prosecutor’s Office confirmed the suspect was at Providence St. Peter Hospital in Olympia on Monday and will be transferred to the Thurston County Jail upon discharge.
The Olympian does not name suspects until charges are filed.
Dave McGee, general manager of the casino, told The Olympian that the female employee who was tackled was bruised, , but otherwise OK.
Thurston County resident Chad Pearson said the suspect is a fixture in the local poker community and news of Saturday’s incident surprised people who know him.
“We’re all in complete shock right now,” Pearson told The Olympian, adding that the suspect’s friends are praying for his recovery. “This guy wasn’t a criminal.”
The suspect has pending charges of felony harassment, malicious mischief and fourth-degree assault from a 2015 case, according to a search of the county court database.
Note: This story has been corrected since its publication.